Over the last couple weeks, response to my brazenly advertorial posts about the consulting firm I'll soon be establishing for forward-thinking, rapaciously ambitious future Bachelor contestants has been so overwhelming that I've gotten a little ahead of myself and already begun living the extravagant lifestyle that's surely coming to me. The Bentley (custom plates: FINLR$E) and cutting-edge loft space in downtown L.A. have already been leased, the lobby Cristal fountain designed, the yacht (The Final Ro$e) tricked out with a below-decks karaoke stadium. Shit, as they say, is getting real. There's just one problem with these champagne wishes and caviar cream-dreams: The single greatest tactical mind in the history of fake-engagement competition genre is not in our employ, she's actually competing on the show. And so in the interest of (a) further advertising the future services of this incredible soon-to-be business and (b) undermining a dangerous potential competitor's entry into this lucrative consulting space, this week we're going to go to the tape and break down Courtney the Model's mind-blowing strategic masterstroke from last night's episode: The Warm-Up Wedding. The video's embedded above. Watch it again as we prepare to deconstruct the staggering brilliance of the boldest gambit in Bachelor history.
1. Emotional Exposure
After so skillfully parceling out affection — of both the emotional and "porking in the Puerto Rican surf/boning atop an ancient Mayan temple" varieties — over the course of their "relationship" Courtney has determined that the time is now right for her to drop the L-bomb. There can be no "engagement" without "love," correct? These are the rules of the game. And so, having previously expressed reservations about their connection, her willingness to have Ben meet her family, and the sustainability of their spark (one cannot help but picture our Bachelor kneeling at the edge of a four-poster bed in a Fantasy Suite, desperately trying to ignite his genitals by scraping them along a piece of flint), our Model is ready to announce she wants to begin the next chapter in her life.
2. Setting the Stage
... And so she takes him to a beautiful park, the scene of her first photo shoot (see Rule 2 from last week's lesson: BE A MODEL) to carry out her huge Emotional Reveal. "I can definitely see myself getting married here." Possibly because SHE'S TURNED THE PARK INTO A WEDDING VENUE. Chairs, flowers, dais, the whole Wedding Channel nine yards except for a DJ exhorting them to Macarena and a cater waiter trying to jam a bite-sized crab cake down his throat. "I'm wondering how far she's going to take this," Ben muses, half-terrified, half-super-aroused, because he's always dreamed of marrying a model.
3. Dressing Him Up
What's she got here, in her purse, totally by coincidence? "You have rings in there?" Ben asks sheepishly, already knowing the answer, but not quite realizing the extent of what's to come. She produces a bow tie, the ultimate symbol of uxorial servitude, and affixes it to his shirt. "I'm now wearing a bow tie," Ben is surely thinking as she tightens the matrimonial noose, "there's no going back now."
4. Writing the Vows
If the simultaneously titillating/infantilizing act of dressing him in front of the cameras weren't enough of a power move, she follows it up with the mind-blowingly brilliant maneuver of producing notebooks and pens with which they can, on the spot, compose their wedding vows. There's nothing quite like making a man hurriedly contemplate and express his feelings in a borderline contractual way to strengthen a couple's bond. Ben often has a faraway, confused look about him, but as she puts that notebook in his hand, his eyes go glassy in the manner of someone who's just been hit in the face by a pillowcase full of two-carat Jared engagement rings. "This is what I like most about this woman," he says, dazed, "she's a model who has sex with me — I'm down for whatever kinky role-playing stuff she comes up with."
5. The Ceremony
"I'm taking a huge risk doing this," Courtney lies to the camera, basking in the moment as the gears of her plan turn with near-frictionless, clockwork precision, just moments before she is actually walking him down the aisle and toward a justice of the peace. We should probably pause here and observe the audacious, breathtaking majesty of this well-executed artifice. Did we mention the justice of the peace? There's literally a dude there, holding a Bible, ready to perform a ceremony. If the bottom of your stomach isn't sloshing around in your shoes by now, you're not fully committed to the process.
6. The Reading of the Vows
Our minister kicks it over to Ben for the vows. (With typically incredible attention to detail, Courtney feigns swoony excitement.) "From the moment I saw you, you took my breath away. What I asked myself after our first date was, 'Is this too good to be true?' The answer I found in Belize is 'no.' You are incredible. I love how you make me feel when I'm in your presence. You are strong and kind and beautiful and I find myself falling for you more and more every time I'm with you. You are real and honest.* So I want to say thank you for believing in me and trusting that we would get to this point after our incredible journey."
"That's so good. You just did that right then?" she asks, as if his notebook hadn't included the talking points she scripted for him. Courtney reads her vows: "[Bunch of words, yada yada, whatever**, culminating in some paraphrased Bob Marley lyrics.]" She tells him she's "100 percent ready for marriage" and, with a demure shrug, "I'm in love with you." Game over. Storm the field, tear down the goalposts, light some police cruisers on fire.
[*You are permitted a spit take, but please clean up quickly: There's more ground to cover.]
[**Several readers with a better command of Sex and the City dialogue than me have written in to point out that Courtney's vows are lifted from Carrie Bradshaw. This revelation does nothing but enhance my awe. Just amazing.]
7. The Exchange of the Rings/The First Kiss
Ben and Courtney place rings (made of twine? Twigs? Squirrel tendons from a poor creature who skittered across her path at the wrong moment?) on each other's fingers, completing the ceremony. They are, essentially, now married. Think about that for a second: On a show in which the ultimate "prize" is a mere, compulsively breakable engagement, Courtney has essentially bypassed a couple more weeks of rose-gifting kabuki and lured him into what may actually be a binding legal union. "If this were a real wedding, I would now be pronouncing you husband and wife," dissembles Pastor Bob, "but since it's not [suspicious, hacking bullshit! It's real! cough into fist] you can still go ahead and kiss." They kiss. They are married. Would you be at all surprised to discover they're now husband and wife by Arizona law? Of course you wouldn't.
8. The Consummation
Husband Ben and his new bride proceed out, arm-and-arm, and back over to the picnic area where, an hour before her first-ever photo shoot many years ago, Courtney lost her virginity. (Don't judge. It's a tough business.) Though the cameras demurely pan away and producers fill time with pre-recorded confessional footage, the happy couple consummate their marriage atop the table as the flutes from their champagne toast scatter and the pages containing their vows gently flutter away in the breeze. "Holy shit," Ben thinks, as he's thrusting away, "I think I just married a model."
"I guess Kacie B.'s not getting a rose tonight."
And that, dear Bachelor watchers, is how it's motherfucking done.